HOUSTON - The polls say Rochelle Garza is closer than any other democrat to actually winning a state-wide race.
FOX 26 Political Reporter Greg Groogan caught up with Garza, who is facing off against incumbent Ken Paxton in the race for Texas Attorney General.
Born and raised in Brownsville, Texas, the sister city to Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico, as the daughter of two public school teachers and a brother with special needs, Garza claims this inspired her to fight for equality and individual rights.
Greg Groogan: How did being the daughter of educators and the sister of a special needs brother form your world view?
Rochelle Garza: It formed everything for me. I grew up learning advocacy at home. I grew up learning what it meant to treat everyone with dignity and respect. That's why I became a civil rights lawyer. That's why I fought for people who have been overlooked and left behind by our legal system because I truly believe we are all equal under the law.
GG: Now that it has happened, you have a particularly personal stake in this fight. Can you talk about that?
RG: I am a mother. I have a six-month-old daughter. Roe fell when she was three months old, on her three-month birthday and I remember looking at her and feeling so heartbroken about the future and whether she would be able to control her own body and her own future and that's why this fight is so important for so many Texans. It's about our lives. That's why I am in this fight to make sure we unseat not only a criminally indicted Attorney General, but also someone who has sued to stop doctors from providing life-saving care to people who need abortions in our state.
GG: Rochelle, you have spoken to thousands of Texans since the Dobbs decision. What are women telling you? What are Texans telling you?
RG: I hear these stories of heartache and fear about what the future holds but also about these really difficult decisions that people are facing. I received a letter from a mother who was pregnant with twins and had to leave the state because one of her twins was not viable and this was clearly a very wanted pregnancy. I have spoken with physicians who are so afraid to provide care and are concerned with the state of the medical field in Texas. So we are going to see effects that are not just the loss of life, but beyond that, the economic effects as a result of Roe being overturned and these Draconian laws that we are seeing in the state of Texas.
GG: If elected Attorney General, how could you provide Texas women with more protection than they have now?
RG: When I become the Attorney General of Texas I am going to use the institutional Constitutional power of this office to protect Texans from these abortion bans. And I'll have the power to do it. I can partner with district attorneys across the state of Texas to fight to protect re-productive rights in state courts and I can make sure that we are not force Doctors to second guess the care that they are giving for fear of going to prison for life or losing their medical license. That's my commitment. I am not going to stop fighting until we restore abortion access in this state.
GG: The President has made a significant move in pardoning thousands of prsioners within the federal system for crimes involving simple possession of marijuana. Your reaction to that.
RG: I think it's really important we move toward legalization of cannabis. Legalizing cannabis in Texas is a billion-dollar industry, and we can fund public schools. We can reinvigorate rural Texas.
GG: When it comes to our border with Mexico, it's not a new issue for you. You grew up there. You understand the challenges, and you've seen what's gone on. How could you make it better?
RG: We can absolutely protect people, stop human trafficking, stop drugs from coming into this country that are destroying lives. We can do that. But we can also treat people humanely.
GG: Is President Biden doing enough in the border?
RG: Frankly no. I think the federal government needs to do a lot more work to insure an orderly immigration system and ensure that people are treated with dignity. I also recognize our border communities are bearing the brunt of this. We need to give them support. Border communities are typically the most impoverished in our state so let's make sure our communities have resources and as attorney general I will hold the Federal Government accountable for doing their job because we shouldn't have to bear the brunt of it as Texans. My focus is on addressing the needs of Texans. That means consumer protections addressing what happened with the power grid failure so that people are not having to pay $500 on their electric bills. That means making sure people have access to voting and that they can get basic healthcare those are the things I want to focus on. Ken Paxton is more concerned about staying out of prison than serving the people of Texas. He has been under felony indictment for seven years without trial for specifically tricking his clients into bad investments that benefited him. He is under FBI investigation for bribery, and he may lose his law license because he tried to overturn the 2020 election, and he's forcing Texans to defend his law license. He does not deserve to be the attorney General of Texas.
GG: How did Paxton fail us before the grid failed and after?
RG: Paxton didn't do anything to hold anyone accountable. These energy companies put their losses on consumers and so we are being forced to pay back those losses over time so in part that is we are you are seeing an increase in your energy bill so we need to stop that. We need to stop that. We need to make sure we have an Attorney General that will lookinto that, investigate and hold people accountable. I could bring balance to government. As attorney General I wouldn't answer to anyone but the people of Texas and the people of Texas are demanding access to basic health care. and abortion care is health care. They don't want to see their daughters die.
GG: What would it mean to have a Latina as the top lawyer for the people of the Lone Star State?
RG: This is the top legal officer for the state of Texas. This is the People's Lawyer, and we are going to return it to the people of Texas.
GG: If you could teach you daughter one lesson, what would that be?
RG: Don't ever let anyone underestimate you because you can make real change. It doesn't matter how small you are or where you live. You can have a huge impact.